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Nov 27, 2012

MAYOR CONVENES TASK FORCE TO DEVELOP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE OF AGING SHS BUILDINGS

Following Reports by Maguire Group, NEASC, Task Force Will Assess Renovations to Existing Structure and Potential Need for a New High School; Maguire Report Cites $10M in Necessary Repairs Prior to Hurricane Sandy Damage

SOMERVILLE - Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today the formation of the Somerville High School Building Task Force ("the Task Force") to evaluate the condition and functionality of the High School's existing building and facilities with an eye to future needs.  Using reports recently completed by the New England Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and The Maguire Group Inc. (MGI), an engineering firm under contract to the City, the Task Force will recommend next steps for addressing issues in the current building and strategies for meeting long-term needs.  Possibilities weighed by the Task Force will include cost analyses of repairing the existing building, and identification of potential sites for a relocated school campus.  The Task Force will be chaired by former SHS Headmaster, Tony Ciccariello.  Other members include:  Tom Bent, President, Bent Electric; Howard Horton President of the New England College of Business and Finance; Paul Bockelman, Chairman, Somerville School Committee; Alderman at Large Jack Connolly; newly-appointed City Capital Projects Manager Skip Bandini; City Engineer Rob King; Omar Boukili, Aide to the Mayor; and community representatives Judith Felix and Donna Haynes.

The NEASC report yielded recommendations for an immediate review of short- and long-term physical needs of the building, while the MGI structural review listed necessary improvements to the building's façade and interior that amount to as much as $10 million in "high priority" repairs.  Those findings predated the additional, significant damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy.  City and school officials stressed, however, that the building remains structurally sound for daily activities while a longer-term plan is developed.  Somerville High School has had no significant upgrades or structural work since the addition of the Technical Trade wing and gymnasium in 1986. 

"As a graduate of Somerville High, I share the appreciation that many residents feel for this historically significant building, but I also want to make sure that all our facilities can provide the best possible educational experience for our City's students - and that has to start with the quality and usability of our school infrastructure.  We need to make decisions about near-term fixes in the context of a longer term strategy to provide high quality, cost-effective educational facilities," said Mayor Curtatone.  "I am confident that the team we have assembled for this mission has the necessary expertise and I look forward to their recommendations."

"Somerville High School has been an iconic community resource for more than a century, and it is important that the Task Force, working with the Mayor's administration and the Somerville Public Schools, consider both short- and long-term options that preserve the history of SHS while meeting the needs of twenty first century classrooms," said Superintendent of Schools, Tony Pierantozzi.  "Our community has always valued and prioritized education, and an integral part of this review and discussion process is to ensure we continue to provide a positive and innovative learning environment for our young adults, and the future of this great city."

The Task Force will begin its review in early 2013.